Self-archive: ‘World police for world peace’

A comment by Gavin Robinson over at Thoughts on Military History reminded me that I've been a bit slack with self-archiving. This is the policy some academic journals have which allows authors to upload copies of their articles to their own websites, with certain caveats. For SAGE journals the policy is that you can

At any time, circulate or post on any repository or website the version of the article that you submitted to the journal (i.e. the version before peer-review) or an abstract of the article.

Which I did do for my first peer-reviewed article, 'World police for world peace: British internationalism and the threat of a knock-out blow from the air, 1919-1945' which appeared in War in History, a SAGE journal, in 2010. That version is only slightly different from the one which was accepted for publication, so I was quite happy to make it available for download.

But I'd forgotten that SAGE's policy also allows you to

At least 12 months after publication, post on any non-commercial* repository or website* the version of your article that was accepted for publication.

Since 'World police for world peace' was published in July 2010 I could have put the accepted, peer-reviewed version up five months ago. Well, I've now rectified this omission: that version is now available for download. Of course, that doesn't have the same pagination as the published article, which has also been copyedited; so the absolute, definitive version is the one available from War in History itself.

Is self-archiving worth the trouble? I think so. Since August last year (when I installed a proper download counter) 'World police for world peace' has been downloaded by 26 different people, from Thailand to the UK. While that's not an earth-shattering number, these are presumably people who are interested enough to download and (hopefully) read my research on the international air force concept, but don't have access to or can't afford the journal's version. That is to say, they probably wouldn't have read my article in any form, if it hadn't been available for free. I don't know how many people have ever read the official version, but 26 sounds like a reasonably substantial fraction. So self-archiving is helping to get my research out there.

As it happens, my second article, 'The air panic of 1935: British press opinion between disarmament and rearmament', was also published by SAGE (in the Journal of Contemporary History) which means the same policy applies. I didn't put up the submitted version because it was radically different from the accepted version. But when the first anniversary of its publication comes around in April, I'll be self-archiving that one too.

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5 thoughts on “Self-archive: ‘World police for world peace’

  1. I wonder if I even still have that version of my War in History article. Something to think about when I finally get around to addressing a lot of digital chaos from the late 1990s into maybe 2000 or 2001—if I ever do.

    But I agree about the value of making research available to others, and it is nice to hear about this (potential) loophole.

  2. Post author

    I am not a lawyer (as they say on the internets), but could you cut and paste the text from the PDF version into a Word document, clean it up and put that up? The pagination and formatting would still be different so it's not WiH's version, that still has value for them. The copyright of the published article does rest with you so you ought to be able to. I think.

    BTW, you are braver than I in self-archiving your dissertations! I've thought about it, but, well, not yet.

  3. I'm in a different career situation, so it isn't all that brave, unless you're talking about the obvious weaknesses of such work, especially an MA thesis, in which case, maybe a little. But remember PhD dissertations in the US are available through UMI or whatever anyway, so I've just stepped out from behind that pay wall.

  4. Post author

    Yeah, that's not the case in Australia. Though if I'd started my PhD a couple of years later I'd have had to put my thesis in the university's digital repository.

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